After The University of Southern Mississippi Technology Learning Center (TLC) Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team won the Gulf Coast Conference Championship for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), the group headed to Louisville, Ky. to compete in the 2014 NWBA national championships where they finished the season 17th in the nation among more than 300 other Division III teams.
“Even though our trip to the national championship didn't end how we wanted it to, everyone still had a good time,” said Golden Eagle Kevin Galloway. “Seeing that many people in wheelchairs sharing the same love of sports and competition, all in one place, is something you don't see that often being a person with a disability.
“Being able to represent Southern Miss on a national level is both an honor and a privilege for us. We look forward to coming back next year – bigger, faster, and stronger – ready to redeem ourselves.”
The TLC Golden Eagles, a team of eight players, competed in four games with two wins and two losses throughout the four-day tournament held in the Kentucky Exposition Center. The team’s appearance at the national championship was made possible through a grant provided by the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities. The grant covered the team’s travel expenses, which was a first for several players who had not previously flown in an airplane.
“We are grateful to the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities and Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services for making this season unforgettable,” said Ashley-Nicole Ross Flowers, manager and coach for the Golden Eagles team. “Receiving this mini-grant made it possible for our players to contribute to their community, build confidence, and to understand they hold the power to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.”
Members of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team for the 2013-2014 season include Galloway, Chad Seaman, Blake Loftin, Edward Barnard, Collin Lacey, Claire Buchanan, Allen Champagne and Mitch Osterberger.
The team, which has featured a variety of members over the years, first began in 2011.
In addition to being home of the Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team, TLC serves children and adults with disabilities through assistive technology, evaluation, consultation and recreation. Located on the university’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, TLC is part of the Southern Miss Institute for Disability Studies, Mississippi’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Research, Education and Service.
For more information the TLC and the Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast/technology-learning-center.